U.S. Attorney's Office
Western District of Virginia
(540) 857-2250
June 18, 2015

Three Defendants in Bristol Virginia Utilities Kickback Scheme Sentenced

ABINGDON, VA—Three of the four defendants convicted in a kickback scheme at the Bristol Virginia Utilities Authority were sentenced today in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon.

Robert James Kelley, 61, of Lexington, Va., David Copeland, 44, of Bristol, Va., and Michael Clark, 63, of Colbert, Ga., were all sentenced today for their roles in the scheme.

“This is a sad day for these defendants and their families. They have chosen to use their positions to enrich themselves at the expense of those who put their trust in them. Identifying public corruption is a priority for my office and prosecuting the offenders is necessary to maintain the public’s trust in our government institutions,” Acting United States Attorney Anthony P. Giorno said today. “I am proud of the cooperative work done by the investigators in this case, and I believe justice has been served.”

“Public corruption erodes the foundation of trust and confidence of a government’s procurement system,” Adam S. Lee, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Division said today. “The FBI, recognizing public corruption as our top criminal priority, pledges to continue to work with our law enforcement partners and community members to hold accountable those who circumvent and manipulate the system for personal gain.”

“It is unacceptable to help yourself to the American public’s money and violate their trust,” said Thomas Jankowski, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Washington D.C. Field Office. “Today’s sentencing’s stand as examples that IRS-CI, along with the United States Attorney and our law enforcement partners, will continue to investigate and prosecute crimes involving financial fraud and in particular fraud that erodes the public’s confidence.”

Kelley Jr., who is a former Vice President of Field Operations for BVU, previously pled guilty to one count of a multi-object conspiracy to commit mail fraud, money laundering and to defraud the United States. Today in District Court, Kelley was sentenced to 30 months in prison and ordered to pay $330,510 in restitution. In addition, he will forfeit $165,375.

Copeland, who is also a former Vice President of Field Operations for BVU, previously pled guilty to one count of a multi-object conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering. Today in District Court, he was sentenced to 24 months in prison and ordered to pay $144,000 in restitution. In addition, he will forfeit $50,000.

Clarke, who previously performed contract work for BVU and submitted false invoices to Kelley Jr., previously pled guilty to one count of engaging in a conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service. Today in District Court, he was sentenced to eight months of federal incarceration. Clark was also issued a $2,000 fine and ordered to pay $110,065 in restitution.

A fourth defendant, James Todd Edwards, has yet to be sentenced for his role in the conspiracy.

The investigation of the case, which remains ongoing, is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Zachary Lee will prosecute the case for the United States.

This content has been reproduced from its original source.